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NCLB Outrages

Words from and to Governor Ritter

by Don Perl

Governor Ritter delivered his last State of the State address this past week. Here are his words on education:


"Three years ago, I laid out several 10-year goals for education: cut the dropout rate in half, close achievement gaps, and double the number of college degrees earned by Colorado students.

Ever since, we̢۪ve been implementing reform after reform. Thanks to those efforts, Colorado now has the most current and rigorous set of standards for classroom learning.

While our strategies are working, we can do a better job giving kids a smart start in life. Last year, thousands of students who should have graduated, dropped out. Too many high school graduates aren̢۪t college-ready, and too many new employees aren̢۪t workforce-ready.

This year, we̢۪re going to keep moving forward, with legislation that will take us closer to the day when we end CSAP testing as we know it.

We'll still assess our kids, and we̢۪ll assess more rigorously than ever before, because we need to know what they know and what they can do. We will modernize assessments so the tests help our teachers teach, help our students learn, and help our parents engage in their children̢۪s education..."


- This translates to mean that Colorado has entered the competition for Race to the Top funds. What that means, of course, is that not only will our children be subjected to even more testing, but that the work of our professionals in the classroom will be judged by those test scores.

Here are the words of Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll:

"...We are aggressively positioning our schools for Race to the Top, and moving away from CSAP toward a better, more comprehensive form of assessment..."


In response to this rather horrid news, we have a superb letter from sister Pat Kennedy.

To Governor Ritter:

"All that counts cannot be counted"
--Albert Einstein

I was horrified to hear in your address today: We̢۪ll still assess our kids, and we̢۪ll assess more rigorously than ever before, because we need to know what they know and what they can do. We will modernize assessments so the tests help our teachers teach, help our students learn, and help our parents engage in their children̢۪s education.

Testing is a failed strategy to creating a better educational system. No other industrialized nation in the world is as obsessed as the US with testing...and they are doing better than us.

I recently talked to an international student from Finland whose parents are both teachers there. Finland has the highest literacy rate in the world and is among the top in math and science.

Students start school at age 7 and begin learning to read at age 8. They receive no report cards for the first three years. Only anecdotal narratives.

From grade 3 to 9 they are only tested by teachers on the various subjects (as we were as children). Students are graded on a simple scale from 4 to 10.

I asked this student how many standardized tests she had taken in her school career. She thought maybe one.

In grade 9 students go into either an academic track that leads to college (which is free for all students) or they go into a professional track to learn a trade or a professional such as construction, electronics, computers, etc.

We have wasted millions of dollars and teachers' time with this ridiculous focus on testing. It is time to realize more testing is NOT the answer to better educational opportunities.

As a retired teacher I have seen the focus on testing result in horrid teaching practices that are driving teachers and students out of the public classrooms and into private schools where teachers are not saddled with the burden of meeting test scores. NO MORE TESTING!!! It is destroying our public schools.


Colleagues and hermanos de confianza, you too can write. Here is the link, with great appreciation for Pat and her strong voice on behalf of our children and our profession:


— Don Perl and Pat Kennedy
Coalition for Better Education
2010-01-18


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